Sunday

13th Jun 2021

Asylum seekers flock to EU safe haven

Just over 300,000 asylum applicants registered in Europe last year, up from 259,000 in 2010, the EU's statistical office, Eurostat, revealed on Friday (23 March).

The vast majority registered in France, Germany and Italy. Most came from Afghanistan and Russia. Altogether, some 90 percent were new applicants, while the remaining were repeat applicants.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Around 300,000 asylum seekers registered in Europe in 2011 (Photo: Wikipedia)

Fewer than 10,000 asylum seekers registered in Greece, but Greece's management of its border crossing with Turkey has caused resentment in some of the larger member states.

Both Germany and Austria are pressing Athens to properly secure a 180-km river, its natural border with Turkey.

"The [Greek] border is open like a barn door. The pressure on Greece must be increased ... It cannot be that a member state which does not do its homework gets away with it scot-free," said Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner earlier this month.

The border with Turkey is for the most part patrolled by Greek authorities with assistance from Frontex, the EU's border agency. In February, the Greeks started building a 12.6-km-long razor wire-topped fence in zone where the river loops into Turkey.

Around 6,000 were crossing the Greek-Turkish border every month last summer. In January, the figure dropped to 2,800 according to Frontex. Many come from Afghanistan, trekking their way across Turkey before making their final way into Greece.

Suffering from a severe lack of resources and manpower, the reception of asylum seekers in Greece is dire. German interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich also said that Greece has so far only hired 11 out of 300 extra immigration officials.

"The question is still open on what happens when a country is not in a position to sufficiently safeguard its borders - as we are currently experiencing in Greece," said Friedrich earlier this month.

Every Saturday morning, large lines of around 100 asylum seekers, including women and children, stand outside Athen's Aliens Police Directorate hoping to get registered.

Understaffed, the Greek police can only register 20 at a time, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The rest scatter only to repeat the ritual the following week.

The EU is aiming to introduce a new common asylum system (CEAS) before the end of the year.

In December, EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said solidarity is key to Europe's fragmented asylum seeker system. But the spat with Greece could jeapordise the CEAS project.

The CEAS aims to standardize asylum procedures and better disperse the asylum applicants throughout the bloc. Last year, 75 percent of all asylum applicants were made in only six member states.

Some member states are now unwilling to participate in the CEAS until Greece can fully secure its borders and follow proper asylum procedures, reports Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Opinion

Crime reported, victim deported

The right to access to justice and to report a crime without fear of being arrested or deported must be guaranteed by law to all persons regardless of their status, writes Kadri Soova.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

News in Brief

  1. EU top court fast-tracks rule-of-law case to October
  2. Hungary's Fidesz wants to ban LGBTIQ content for under-18s
  3. MEPs join EU citizens on farm-animal cage ban
  4. Council of Europe urges Russia to release Navalny 'immediately'
  5. China's anti-sanctions law alarms EU businesses
  6. Airlines seek to water down EU passengers' rights
  7. EU leaders join call for further probe into Covid origins
  8. Liberal MEPs under fire over Babiš abstention

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU urges Poland to step back from 'legal primacy' clash
  2. Pressure builds on EU to back WTO vaccine-patent waiver
  3. EU anti-fraud agency cracked down on fake pandemic supplies
  4. MEP office expenses kept secret on dubious evidence
  5. What the EU public think of EU pesticide regulation
  6. MEPs set to take EU Commission to court on rule-of-law
  7. EU takes legal action against Germany on bonds ruling
  8. MEPs demand new EU biodiversity law by next year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us